Boston Celtics vs. Phoenix Suns: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Boston
They're now 4-1 since Avery Bradley made his debut. But, tonight the big story was Boston's bench, which outscored the starters for the first time all season.
The play of rookie forward Jared Sullinger—who hauled in a career-high 16 rebounds in 34 minutes—was particularly impressive. As the Celtics' two leading scorers, Jeff Green and Jason Terry combined to shoot 11-of-17 and score 27 points.
Also, the Celtics defense was active up and down the court again, forcing 12 steals and scoring a clump of baskets on easy fast breaks. In a home game they were "supposed" to win, the Celtics finally took care of business.
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo
Rondo showed smooth aggressiveness early, attacking the basket coast to coast for his first two points. But, he played just 17 minutes in the first half, tallying six assists and four points.
He ended the game with eight points and eight assists in 30 minutes.
Shooting Guard: Avery Bradley
Bradley scored Boston's first basket with a confident pull-up jumper off a live dribble. On the next possession, he grabbed an offensive rebound, absorbed contact on an aggressive foray into the paint and finished at the rim.
Bradley also knocked down several corner three-pointers, and needed illegal screens from Phoenix's big men to knock him off balance as he hounded opposing ball-handlers on the perimeter. He finished with nine points and two steals in 18 minutes.
At this point, there's very little he can do wrong.
Small Forward: Paul Pierce
Only 11 first-half minutes for Pierce, as Green filled in beautifully as his substitute. It was good for Doc Rivers to get him some rest.
Pierce just didn't have it tonight, and you could see it in his legs. He scored seven points, missing seven of his 10 shots in just 24 minutes.
Power Forward: Brandon Bass
Bass has had an awful trend this season of completely disappearing on the offensive end for quarters at a time. He's a decent screen-setter, but his shot attempts don't come like they used to. Tonight that trend continued in the first quarter.
As the game went on, Bass began to ease into an attempt at looking comfortable, but finished 2-of-8 from the field and a team-worst plus/minus of minus-17.
Center: Kevin Garnett
Garnett played 29 minutes and scored just 10 points, but midway through the second half, his play making at the top of the key in a surprisingly fluid two-man game with Jeff Green was beautiful to watch.
Dribbling at the top of the key, Garnett set Green up splendidly with a back door pass, leading to a dunk. Plays like that one are why Garnett is so rare, and so ridiculously talented.
Sixth Man: Jeff Green
Jeff Green attempted his first two free-throws just seconds after entering the game, and his aggressiveness carried over throughout the game. In the second quarter he blew by Michael Beasley for a ferocious swarming of the rim.
And later on in the half, he doubled down with a thunderous dunk over Jermaine O'Neal and a beautiful alley-oop in the span of 10 seconds. If you call Green tentative or soft, then you either don't know what those words mean, or you aren't watching him play.
He led the team in scoring with 14 points.
Boston's bench was the reason they won the game tonight, outscoring the starters 48-39.
Caught in what might be the longest shooting slump of his career, Jason Terry's first two shot attempts were good tonight, which is a great sign.
He also ran a few pick-and-rolls, leading to a good shot attempt or an easy basket for the rolling man at the rim.
Apart from an incredibly frustrating play where he missed a three-pointer while running a two-on-one fast break, this was by far Terry's best game in a while.
Jared Sullinger played the best game of his career. He scored 14 points in myriad ways and grabbed 16 rebounds.